New York

Barbara Bloom

Jay Gorney Modern Art

It was that great master of manners and lover of women, David Salle, who, in a laconic text from 1977, compared Barbara Bloom’s practice to that of an ironically self-aware hostess, a perfect, gracefully accommodating hostess. Seductive in its civility, Bloom’s work has been championed for its clever innuendo and “twist of the knife” approach. Past efforts (particularly the excessive installation The Reign of Narcissism, 1989) combined a delicate conceptual rigor with the suffocating veneer of the 19th century in a complex critique of the signs of bourgeois femininity and the historical weight of class privilege. Yet within this critique, Bloom’s barbs were dulled by all the decor and tasteful appointments; the objects of her analysis revealed themselves as uncannily close to the actual objects of her desire. In The Tip of the Iceberg, 1991, Bloom pairs two forms of deep space—the ocean

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